LOVE ‘The Devils’ and ‘Music Lovers’ but I’ve at least enjoyed everything I’ve seen by him so far. I’d be very happy if Criterion released some of his work.
Oh, wow, Mike. I just spotted this:
>>From what i’ve seen of Lady Chatterly it seems like it is clearly Russell, just in the restrained mode he seems to favor with all his D.H. Lawrence adaptations. I know most people believe Women in Love to be restrained because it is an early work but it is actually more serene than much of his BBC output or Billion Dollar brain for that matter so I think the lack of outrageous touches in Chatterly may have more to do with the way he approaches Lawrence than with a loss of passion. <<
You could be right. I have yet to see THE RAINBOW, another Lawrence adaptation. And yes, his BBC artist bios were pretty wild.
>>Just managed to finally see The Devils (1971 – in a poor copy) and now know why it is highly tauted by Russell’s admirers. … The possession/orgy scene is tame by today’s standards <<
Did your bootleg have the Rape of Christ sequence worked in or added as an extra?
Yes, it needs a re-release … or the Criterion treatment … or something so that those who didn’t get to see it during it’s original release (as I did) or during the time WB allowed it to be available can discover it. Keeping it prisoner is shameful.
>>Forget Ken Russell, when will KURT Russell get recognized?<<
Oh, everyone recognizes Kurt. Makes it so difficult for the 2 of us to sneak off for quiet romantic weekends …
Bob, I think the possession scene was severely cut by our friends at Warner Bros. The full scene might not seem as dated.
SG, I just got the Music Lovers on laserdisc and it was like seeing it for the first time. A tremendous movie and i too long for a Criterion release.
Harry, I think the Rainbow is still available in a Region 2 edition.
Well I think Ken Russell is definitely one of the best directors, up there with Welles, Mizoguchi, Bergamn, and hundreds of others. He just doesn’t seem to be in fashion nowadays – maybe becaue not many of his films are available on DVD, and he hasn’t had much critical exposue over the past 20 years.
Kurt Russell is a genius. I think that’s recognized by most people who enjoy his films.
PS: Just saw some comments on his excesses. Well, it’s obviously a matter of taste. I’d take “The Devils” anyday over more established classics like Kane, Taxi Driver, Wild Strawberries, or hundreds of others.
Good point. Before any company takes a chance on reissuing his works there would need to be a major critical reevaluation of them. I have never seen some critics, such as Jonathan Rosenbaum, even mention him once! I see his influence everywhere but no one is crediting the source.
The Devils really needs to get the Criterion treatment sometime.
For those out there with access to Netflix, The Music Lovers is now streaming there.
I’m assuming you think it’s worth watching. I don’t think I’ve seen a film by Russell.
I’d rather recognize Theresa Russell….
I’m not sure it’s your cup of tea stylistically speaking, but it’s an interesting movie, and one that I think still has never been made available on DVD, so it’s not been easily to see.
Awesome. Awesome info Matt. I love it when stuff that’s never been on DVD makes it to Netflix streaming.
Just finally saw ALTERED STATES a few months ago, and I must say, this guy’s stuff is amazing. Can’t wait till—someday—THE DEVILS gets a proper release so I don’t have to satisfy myself by watching clips on youtube. Kicking myself hard for not caring about Russell when Lincoln Center did a retrospective.
That said, anyone have a recommendation for somewhere to buy THE DEVILS, even in bootleg form? Is the version that pops up on Amazon sometimes decent?
Ken Russell had two great periods of work. The first was for telvision where he made “Dante’s Inferno,” “Isadora: The Biggest Dancer in the World,” “Song of Summer” and other delights culminating in the now-bamned “Dance of the Seven Veils.”
Theother period was the early 70’s : "Women in Love, “The Devils” (his masterpeice and the best film ever made about why church and state shoudl remain separate), “The Boy Friend,” " Savage Messiah" and “Mahler.” After that things get spotty.
That he was able to make any of these films at all is astonishing.
“That he was able to make any of these films at all is astonishing.”
That’s how I felt watching ALTERED STATES. And even more some from just the 3 minutes of clips of THE DEVILS on youtube. Really exciting.
The set for “The Devils” was designed by Derek Jarman. He called it “themost beautiful room in London.” it makes for a “period” drama every inch of which is stylized to the max. Quite audacious.
When I saw ALTERED STATES I attributed most of the things I like about it to Paddy Chafesky’s script and novel. I think the auteur for that film at least is up for debate.
“When I saw ALTERED STATES I attributed most of the things I like about it to Paddy Chafesky’s script and novel. I think the auteur for that film at least is up for debate.”
Yes, Chayefsky always leads the writer-as-auteur question . . . although Chayefsky thought Altered States sufficient Russell-ized that he wanted his name taken off the film.
His movies look silly to me! I have him filed under Greenaway for the moment. Intimidating me.
I would rather watch a Fellini.
“I think the auteur for that film at least is up for debate.”
I presume zero screenwriting authority on the hallucination sequences which exhibit such a strong aesthetic as to be stunning (I was, first time I watched it…scored a copy for 6 bucks today, by the way).
I just can’t imagine crediting Sayat Nova as the predominant voice behind COLOR OF POMEGRANATES.
Before he and Chayefsky fell out over the particulars, Arthur Penn wanted to do the film with minimal FX.
Um, when he gets put on the back of a milk carton?
Anyone know what the script actually says about the hallucinations? What the details are and how much they’re outlined? I’ve been hoping to come across a copy of the novel, too.
And, of course, Uli: har har har.
Paddy Cheyefsky was bi-polar and being treated for it with hydrotherapy. In the hyrdortherapy tank he began to hallucinate — and thus “Altered States” was born.
Chaeyfsky is our Artaud.
I think Russell is a bit of a hack personally, but a very entertaining and unique one
Ken Russell was on the UK version of Big Brother within the past few years. I heard he got kicked off almost immediately: http://youtu.be/8ipNT1G0990
I like his earlier films, but the weakness of his later output tends to undercut my respect for his work, kind of what others say about Woody Allen.
What’s his output since ‘Whore’ been like anyway? is it mostly t.v stuff? i have no idea what he has been up to for the last 20 years.
his bit in Trapped Ashes was okay. I like Louse of Usher a bit, if you can get passed the home movie look.
By the way, a further note regarding availability of Russell’s films:
Savage Messiah is available as a Warner Archives MOD DVD, as is his 1971 musical The Boy Friend.
My story about how I met Ken Russell might be amusing (and self-depreacting) to y’all. I posted it on another MUBI thread many months ago, so I apologize to those of you who read it there.
When I was chair of the Cinema-TV Division at SMU, we invited Ken Russell to speak at a screening of Altered States. (He was in town for the premiere of his latest avant-garde effort.) I was warned in advance that the director could be irascible if not properly “lubruicated” (i.e., intoxicated). So we got a bottle of fine brandy and drank and talked while the film was being shown down the hall.
I mentioned to Ken that I once attended a Ken Russell marathon film festival in Pasadena, where I saw 14 of his films over 7 straight days. He looked at me and said, “What were you, crazy?”
My favorite piece of sound editing in a Ken Russell movie is the Marilyn Monroe mass in Tommy.
I loved his brief cameo in Keith Fulton’s film “Brothers of the Head”, though I also loved the film in general.
I also appreciated his role as both director and cinematographer in “Performance”.